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26 July 2011

Go Topless in Ohio

If you visit a beach at one of the Ohio State Parks, it is quite possible (and legal) for you to look over and see a bit more skin than you expected.  Both men and women are allowed to wear as little as a thong and be totally topless anywhere on park land, including the public beaches, in the water, campgrounds, hiking trails, etc..  Currently it is not very common to see topless women (or "topfree" as some prefer), or men and women in a thong bathing suit, but it is a privilege that some people do take advantage of both for "tan line" reasons, and just to enjoy the feeling of freedom.

Ohio State law defines indecent exposure as the exposure of "private parts", which the court system has determined includes genitals (penis, scrotum, vagina, labia), and anus, but not the female or male breast or nipples, or the buttocks for that matter.  Technically, this applies statewide, but not all city and county law enforcement agencies are diligent at educating their officers about the details of this law.  So, the safest place for people to shrink their tan lines in Ohio is in the Ohio State Parks, where the rangers statewide are quite versed in this issue.


What does this have to do with swinging?  As a couple, we entered into swinging as a way to seek out other couples who are open minded about sexuality and seekers of personal freedom.  A side effect of swinging has been a greater appreciation of the wide variety of the shapes and sizes that we all come in, as well as a greater acceptance of our own bodies, so going out to a state park beach when it is not very busy is a delightful way for us to enjoy just being ourselves.  There is definitely a bit of a thrill doing something that is "pushing the envelope" and at the edge of our own comfort zone even though it is legal, but what we have found is that as long as we are comfortable and confident in what we are doing, people seem to deal just fine coming upon a topless woman on the beach.  We do try to pick an area when we arrive that has few or no kids, but more for the sake of the parents who are usually the uptight ones since most kids don't really care if some woman is running around in only her bottoms like lots of kids do at home.  However, if parents show up near us and are comfortable with their family being around women with no tops on like in parts of Europe, we won't chase them away.

Part of the reason we are comfortable with the topfree / topless idea at Ohio State Parks is that we did happen to talk to a commissioned park officer on a trip to one of the parks.  He explicitly confirmed that topless is legal anywhere on state park land, as well as thongs -- you just have to keep your genitals covered.  In fact, he actually encouraged us to do it.  He did throw in "as long as you are not near a church group", but it was fairly apparent that this was an editorial addition, and in checking the Ohio Revised Code section 2907.09 for Public Indecency, there is no wording that qualifies the audience at all, and especially not for church groups in any way.  If a park officer with a badge does ask you to cover up or move due to the people around you, it is often best to stay on their good side.  Plus, it would be good to keep public opinion about people that go topless a positive one instead of seeming confrontational and defiant.  (Also see the section on disorderly conduct two paragraphs below).

If you are already comfortable with the whole topless beach idea, you are not technically limited to just Ohio State Parks.  Ohio is a big state, so there are lots of other places you might consider, as long as local laws do not prohibit it.  Biking, canoeing, driving, your back yard, your front yard, even swimming pools are all technically fair game.  A local municipality (town, village, city, etc.) or county in Ohio can pass local laws that specifically includes exposing a woman's breast or a man or woman's buttocks as indecent exposure, but few have, so if they do not have such a law on the books then you are legally allowed to go topless or wear a thong there whether you are a man or a woman.

However, even though the State of Ohio does not classify the exposure of women's breasts as indecent exposure, a woman might still be asked to cover up if you are discovered by a law enforcement officer not familiar with this part of Ohio state law, and failure to comply could result in (usually minor) disorderly conduct charges, as discovered HERE back in 2007.  So, a good rule of thumb is that if you decide you are going to enjoy letting your breasts get some sun, what other people say to you doesn't matter much (and it is a good time to inform them about the law in Ohio), but if someone with a badge tells you to cover up, even if they are wrong in claiming "indecent exposure", it may be better to comply unless you are ready to take a stand in court and possibly still be stuck with disorderly conduct charges.

The good news is that Columbus at least has a long history now of being very accepting of women that choose to go topfree, as women have done this year already at the 30th annual Columbus Pride festival on June 18th 2011, and COMFEST on June 24th-26th, and at other events in previous years.  Here are some links to info about events in the past:
    http://www.examiner.com/do-it-yourself-in-columbus/comfest-2011-and-away-we-go
    http://www.theotherpaper.com/article_1f0b6a4c-b643-50d7-b9a2-a26991db4088.html
    http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/06/18/gay-pride-parade.html

Additionally, in case you are not familiar with them, here are some of the Ohio State Parks near Cincinnati with beaches you can visit to lose some tan lines:
    Caesars Creek State Park - The most likely place to run into others going topless or in thongs in SW Ohio
    Cowan Lake State Park - Supposedly some of the nicest beach sand in the region [edit: we went there in late 2011 and the sand was not really better than Caesars Creek or Stonelick, and had a lot of plants in the water by the beach]
    East Fork State Park - Large beach with lots of facilities
    Stonelick Lake State Park - Our favorite, small, quaint, and close to our home
     
If you would like to research this topic some more, here are some good places to start:
    http://tera.ca/ - A Canada-based group that still follows topless rights issues in the USA
    http://www.gotopless.org/news.php?item.3.1
    Caesars Creek info - Info from beachgoers as far back as 2007
    Other Ohio Places - Other lakes and parks in Ohio to check out
    Thongboard - More about wearing thongs at Caesars Creek in Ohio, but mentions toplessness too


Also, if you have a Hamilton County Public Library card, you can use your card number and your PIN, which is usually the last 4 digits of the phone number you gave them when you signed up, and view some full articles here:


BREAST-BARING COUNTS DROPPED AGAINST 5
The 1995 incident that pointed out that breasts are not listed in Ohio indecent exposure laws

CITY ATTORNEY CANDIDATES DEBATE SETTLEMENT IN ARREST CASE
Years later attorneys in Columbus are still talking about the 1995 incident and deciding the same thing

WOMAN, 37, CONVICTED, FINED $100 - TOPLESS LAWN MOWING 
An important incident to take note of because the  woman was NOT charged for being topless, but for disorderly conduct and being intoxicated

The bottom line on going topless
A light-hearted piece discussing attitudes surrounding toplessness at a beach in Ohio

4 comments:

  1. Another article that confirms the legality of toplessness in Ohio:

    http://www.examiner.com/open-relationships-in-cleveland/national-go-topless-protest-day

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  2. I MUST come to Ohio, if for no other reason than to bump into you on the track...

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  3. my husband has always said that was legal here and i never really believed it till now

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  4. One interesting thing of note we have learned from reading on the postings on http://btopfree.runboard.com/t541 and the above link for Thongboard...

    It turns out that some of the more cautious topless and thong beachgoers save their beach time for the weekdays in Spring and Fall when most school kids are in school. They feel less self-conscious if they go when it is just adults (and maybe their preschoolers) at the beach. High school kids that go to the beach without their parents can be a bit disorderly and make a scene if they have nothing better to do, and some parents can get a bit testy about their younger school-age kids seeing breasts and buttocks unexpectedly, so if you want the best chance for a quiet day without a big crowd of kids around, take a vacation day mid-week and give it a try.

    It sounds like Thursdays are a common day for people to post that they went to wear minimal swimwear during months that school is back in session. Hope that gives some more people ideas for trying it out!

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